When we talk of diversity, we are talking about accepting people of different ethnicities, religions, sexuality and gender identification. We talk of how people look, their belief system, how they act. In a land that is supposed to be a great “melting pot” that celebrates diverse citizens, there is certainly no lack of racism, homophobia, religious intolerance and over-all people bashing of anyone that we feel isn’t “one of us,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. One of us Christians? Us Americans? Us Caucasians? Someone, somewhere will always find a way to promote our differences over our similarities. But it’s much deeper than just looks or beliefs.
It’s really about diversity of thought, isn’t it? It’s not your skin color, it’s what it represents. Your sexual preference isn’t the issue but we can’t wrap our heads around how you think. Why do you have to be different from us? Why can’t you conform? Why must you pervert the status-quo?
Its fear based. If you think in ways that we don’t, who knows what you’re thinking at any given time. Your political views are not like mine, so you can’t possibly think of what’s in the best interest of this country. You can’t be all about protecting your family if your idea of family isn’t that of a Norman Rockwell painting. How can you be for spiritual growth and all-encompassing love if you aren’t worshiping in the same house as I? We look at what’s different over what’s the same.
We all want the same things. To love and to be loved. To prosper and to live a comfortable life. To do good work and to better ourselves. But we don’t have to think exactly like each other for all these things to be true. Our cultures, our experiences, they are what make us who we are and shape the ways that we think. This should be celebrated and not used as an excuse to further the divide between us.
And, we don’t have to agree with each other. We don’t even have to understand each other. But we must make strides in accepting each other and our various ways of thinking. If we can be open to diversity of thought, then perhaps, in due time, things like color, faith and sexuality won’t be as big of a concern either. I can’t say I understand all the layers of humanity and the choices some make in how they live their lives. But I won’t stop myself from liking someone or making a connection with a fellow human being just because I live differently.
In fact, I maintain I can even disagree with someone’s choices but still count that person among my friends, because I’m not living their life, they are. I would argue that being friends with people who aren’t “like us” only enriches us and enhances our overall life experience. Nothing is gained by living in your comfort zone.
Branch out. Make a friend who seems, at first glance, to be the antithesis of you. Get past skin color, accent, and the way they dress and look at their mind and their heart. Embrace our diversity of thought and enjoy the rewards that come with it. After all, we’re all in this together.